Sage serves upscale American cuisine from an ever-evolving menu. One visit to Sage will not be a clone of your next dining experience as chef and owner William Glover revamps his modestly sized menu every 60 days to incorporate seasonal ingredients. On every visit to Sage, you’ll indulge in only the freshest of ingredients, carefully selected to pair flavors and presentation. And if you find yourself falling in love with one particular dish, don’t fret that it will be absent from the menu on your next dine-in: All menu items pull from the same influences and are unique in a way that it becomes apparent the head chef has contemplated each flavor, every ingredient, and it seems nothing will disappoint. Sage also has a full-service bar that serves specialty cocktails and martinis, and the wine list is impressive. The cocktails match the main courses in terms of creativity and presentation. Try the Orangecello Cosmopolitan; it’s the perfect libation for fall weather.
After stints at Jefferson Country Club, New Albany Country Club and the OSU Faculty Club, Glover is now front and center at Sage. His interest in food has been lifelong, the result of a pedigree in which both sides of his mother and father’s family have been integral. His mother’s side is Italian; their dishes usually stand as the highlight of family gatherings, and on his father’s side, he grew up tromping around his grandmother’s restaurant. It would seem a safe bet that he would eventually end up in the culinary world. Glover’s restaurant is for those who appreciate an imaginative chef with a menu that is devoid of textbook-predictable entrees that you’ve seen on every menu in every city. You’ll find combinations that you have never dreamed of — cilantro-vanilla vinaigrette? Yes, please.
The bistro is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday. We suggest you make reservations, as the restaurant fills up quickly during peak dinner hours. You’ll want to valet your car since parking is scarce and inconvenient in this part of town. Though we sampled the dinner menu, the Sunday brunch has been touted as one of the best in Columbus. After our dining experience, we can imagine why.
Though Sage is located in a less robust portion of North High Street in Clintonville, you’ll pay no attention to the surroundings once you enter the dimly lit, earth-toned interior of the restaurant. Blank, colorful square canvasses adorn exposed brick walls on one side, and artwork hangs on the opposite wall. The atmosphere is relaxing and comfortable, conducive to good conversation. You won’t feel pressed to barrel through your meal. Linger, consider the flavors and appreciate the care that Glover took in designing each dish.
Before you delve into the carefully planned dinner menu, order a specialty cocktail or martini. The flavor pairings in these drinks are simple, but dead-on. And if you become truly attached to a certain drink, you can rest assured that it will be on the menu on your next visit, as the specialty cocktails are staples to the menu. While enjoying your beverage of choice, slather a piece of bread with smoked sea-salt butter and take in the surroundings.
We sampled several items from Glover’s fall menu, all of which represented his unique style. For a starter course, we stayed on the light side going with the fall salad, a mix of arugula, celery root and a brie crostini, and dressed with a white balsamic caramel dressing. It was our first indication that Glover’s signature is pairing unusual flavors. Next, we tried the Cauliflower Soup. The mild flavors of feta and cauliflower were paired with hints of bacon and chives.
We moved on to three samplings of seafood dishes, which began with the Scallop and Foie Gras, a pairing of two rich flavors evened out with caramelized pineapple, macadamia nuts and micro greens all drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Next, we tried the Salt Cod Fritters served with a chorizo aioli, green olive puree, celery salad and lemon oil — our meal could have stopped there and it we would have left impressed. But, it continued, and next we tried the Grilled Salmon with caramelized brussel sprouts and tomatoes, a delicious grits cake, crispy leeks and whole grain mustard.
You can’t go wrong with this trifecta: Start with the fall salad, a mélange of autumnal flavors like celery root and arugula. For your main course, you’ve gotta try the Scallops and Rabbit Loin. And for dessert, order Sage’s seasonal Crème Brulee. This is a meal that is perfectly suited for cooler temps.
Not yet disappointed, we were astounded as a substantial portion of Duck Confit was placed in front of us. With cannellini beans, braised pearl onions, and a white cabbage-carrot slaw, this item is one you might find on the menus of a handful of other local restaurants, but it will never seem as imaginative as in Glover’s restaurant. It was rich, delicious and wholly unexpected. The last entree was one of which variations have become well-known and popular at Sage: the Braised Pork Belly. Though comfortably full, we had to try it, but if we had to judge by looks alone, it would have passed the test. Topped with an imaginative ketchup variation – jalapeno ketchup – and creamed corn, we quickly understood why this dish is crowd favorite.